Jeff Probst on Bringing Back Gross Food Challenge & Live Reunions From ‘On Fire’ Podcast (Episode 11)

Could live reunions return?

Photo: CBS


In the latest episode of the On Fire podcast, Jeff Probst, Brittany Crapper, and Jeff Wolfe reunited to unpack the latest Survvior 44 episode. As opposed to only answering a few fan questions at the end, this episode was exclusively reserved for answering a whole lot of burning questions, as well as the “Why Jeff sucks?” segment.


  • The latest individual immunity challenge is brought up (“The Last Gasp”), and Yam-Yam’s concentration during the challenge is praised. 
  • Wolfe asks Probst about Carolyn getting mad at him at the last tribal and asks Probst if he was scared, to which Probst jokingly replies that “A little bit.” 
  • Probst says he aspires to be as honest and straightforward as Carolyn is, as her personality is always present, including with him. 
  • Carolyn’s move of playing the idol is discussed, as well as whether she needed to play it as the Tika three had the votes. Probst says that for the audience, it might be obvious Carolyn could’ve kept the idol, but as players have limited information, she did what she had to do to play the game. 


  • How is it determined how much food the players get? Is there a nutritionist on Survivor? Probst says there isn’t a nutritionist. However, as the new era includes less food, production did discuss with the medical team how much food could be given to the players so they wouldn’t get sick, but still adjusting the quantity to the new rules. 
  • What are the rules for the castaways? There is a philosophy of having the least number of limitations, though if production needs to intervene, they will; if not, they will stay out. When it comes to stealing, for instance, it is allowed, though frowned upon, to steal someone else’s clothes, but advantages and idols can’t be stolen. The line is if it’s between players, it’s allowed. If production is involved, then it’s not.
  • Could someone break the cage to get the idol instead of using the key? Technically yes, but that’s not how the twist worked.
  • Will there be a podcast episode dedicated to the music played on Survivor? Probst responds the music in Survivor started with two composers who’ve written thousands of tunes during the show’s run. Local music has also been incorporated into the Survivor score. 
  • In the Survivor: Marquesas finale, Probst got into a helicopter, and there was a montage of him throughout New York. How did those scenes happen? Why did Rosie O’Donnell host the reunion? Probst says on early seasons, they did these transitions of Jeff leaving tribal with the winner’s votes and getting back to the US apparently in an instant so the audience would feel it was all in one continuous moment, as opposed to having months in between filming and the reunion. Probst also says other people hosted the reunion for the first few seasons to promote CBS Morning Show, though, after Marquesas, they decided Probst should host the reunions. 
  • Probst talks about the montage filmed after Survivor: The Amazon, where he was on a jet ski at the Río Negro in one instant and the next at the Hudson River. This finale was aired right after 9/11, and Probst purposely paused in front of the Statue of Liberty as a sign of patriotism, which the audience responded positively to as the country was still healing. Probst also says he got hypothermia after filming in the frozen water for hours. 
  • Is there any chance Survivor will be filmed anywhere else besides Fiji in the future? Probst says Survivor has been very lucky to have been filmed worldwide in the past, but there are several reasons why different locations are more complicated now. Finding a secluded place is much more challenging as places where they’ve shot before now have resorts or homes, the crew size is bigger, and not many places can house over 400 people. There are also financial reasons, as the dollar’s value isn’t as strong as it used to be in certain countries, and the budget hasn’t been increased to cover extra costs. There’s also political unrest, and there are several places where they wouldn’t feel safe to shoot in or feel uncomfortable supporting. Lastly, extreme weather due to global warming wouldn’t be feasible in many areas. The production also has a partnership with Fiji that allows Survivor to be filmed more smoothly. 
  • Would Survivor ever be filmed in a cold place? Crapper says that’s not the essence of Survivor, and filming in a cold environment would also completely change the game dynamics. 
  • Does Probst have a favourite catchphrase? Probst says he likes “Got nothin’ for you” as it came from adopting a dismissive attitude and telling it from a good-natured place. Crapper adds her favourite phrase is “The tribe has spoken.” 
  • Probst reveals all his phrases are written within the lining of the hats he wears on the show.
  • What happened to food-related challenges? Will they make a comeback? Probst says these challenges started from visiting a place, seeing what locals ate, and giving those items to the players to see if they would eat them. They later tried to create their concoctions with smoothies, but they weren’t satisfying anymore. Probst revealed he did his research to include a food challenge on Survivor 45 to bring back balut and grubs and other items eaten in other places they’ve shot Survivor in, but these items can’t be shipped from other countries. For now, Probst says food challenges are dead. 
  • Does production have a collection of mechanical animals to parade around on the show? Probst and Crapper laugh at this question as all animals shown on the show are real. When production sees an animal while shooting, they collect shots of these animals to later use with the other footage. 
  • How long does Probst wait between asking if the players have any advantages or idols to play at tribal council and later revealing the votes? Probst says he doesn’t wait a predetermined time. Probst instead pauses for a beat, and depending on the vibe of the situation, he gives or takes a few seconds. Usually, when Probst goes on to read the votes, someone interrupts him and plays an idol or advantage. 
  • What does Probst do off-camera? Probst says his typical day working at Survivor goes as follows: he wakes up around 5:30 am, has coffee, looks at the plan for the day, preps for the challenge, grabs lunch, has a rehearsal for whatever is necessary, has a creative meeting, prepares and shoots tribal council, and rounds up his day around 9:30 pm. 
  • Would Probst ever consider having a season of first boots or with players that went out too soon? Probst says the idea sounds better than the result since great players went out before their time, but he’s not sure there are enough of them to make up an entire cast. Some fans are not likely to remember early boots from seasons filmed several years back, and these players also left for a reason. Probst also mentions that from a marketing perspective, it would be complicated as well. Based on the idea, though, Probst suggests making it a tribe of early boots against a tribe of runner-ups. 
  • Can intros make a comeback? Probst says introductions are not on anymore because of time constraints, and every minute is valuable on Survivor. Probst is not opposed to having a different and shorter version of intros in the future. 
  • Are live finales coming back? Probst agrees live finales are fun and great to film. However, Probst didn’t like that due to the public perception and social media responses, and players had to defend their games rather than enjoy the moment. Probst prefers to have genuine moments with the players just after the winner is announced in the jungle but is not opposed to live finales returning. 



  • Probst is criticized for not listening to the fans and doing what he wants, and he could know what the fans wish for just by looking at social media. The players aren’t playing Survivor anymore, and the game is playing them instead. How is that fun? Probst says he has learned from the “Why Jeff sucks” segment that fans don’t like experimentation or evolution, and he feels responsible for the show to keep going by changing and trying new things. Probst finishes by saying, “Better to burn out rather than fade away.” 

Written by

Mariana Loizaga

Mariana is a lawyer and a writer from Mexico City, Mexico. She has a masters degree in International Relations from the University of Surrey. Her hobbies include reading, blogging, and of course watching Survivor. The first season of Survivor she ever saw was Survivor: Philippines and she became so fascinated with the game and its many layers that she went back through the archives and watched every single previous season.

7 responses to “Jeff Probst on Bringing Back Gross Food Challenge & Live Reunions From ‘On Fire’ Podcast (Episode 11)”

  1. I applied to be on Survivor when you had to send in VHS tapes, around 2006. Is there anyway to get my audition tape back? Just wondering!
    Thank you..btw..I have never missed an the show. Sincerely, Susan Ford.

  2. CBS has announced that Survivor, all episodes, will expand to 90 minutes soon. That should be long enough to bring back the expanded opening credits with players shown.

  3. I truly miss the live finale very exciting please consider bringing it back ! Also I & my family members while watching survivor all say out loud “CMON IN GUYS ” its like “Make my day”or “You can’t handle the truth” absolutely love Survivor, I understand changing some of the scenarios but cmon !

  4. What happened to ponderosa? Can I still watch it? And how? I have been watching survivor since day one. Now everything is going to streaming and I have to wait till next day to watch. Which drives me crazy. I love, love this show.

  5. Jeff can’t find enough gross bugs on Fiji for contestants to eat? We are shocked his reasoning involves shipping bugs from other countries!
    You want to know what we fans want? Bugs, gross stuff. We’re losing interest!

  6. I’ve never missed a Survivor episode since the very beginning but the the show is now too formula and is becoming boring. I tend to watch it with one eye while reading or working on my computer. Survivor needs to up its game and get fresh again.

    The challenges are redundant and boring. Come up with new ideas here!

    Probst says the crew is too large and logistics too difficult to move the show around. The answer to that then is to trim the show crew requirements down. The Covid scamdemic is over worldwide, so that can’t be an excuse for not traveling any longer. There are various potential countries that should be able to provide new vistas such as Australia, New Zealand, other Pacific islands, etc.

    Please don’t bring back the live show. That was a travesty with the transition from a starved final three to plump, cleaned-up people.

    Speaking of which, it looks like there is more prep and coddling of the contestants prior to tribal council. They all seem to have better looking skin as if they have been given skin care items, some woman even seem to look like they have on fresh nail polish and overall, they seem to have more clothes.

    What happened to the initial shelter building montage?

    What happened to the food auction? That was always interesting.

    Bring back exile island.

    The new 29 days length is too short. Return to the original 39 days!

  7. Jeff sucks. Obviously has no finger on the pulse of the superfan community, he just wants to pander to the new viewers they retweet every week who think this new Survivor is somehow good. I just want to watch players socially and strategically navigate the game without Jeff and production getting in the way with 10+ advantages in play at a single time.

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